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Does the death penalty have a legitimate role in our efforts to punish vicious criminals? I believe that it does.

I am convinced that the death penalty is an effective deterrent. The threat of capital punishment does deter violent crime. Not only does it deter individual behavior, it has value in terms of general deterrence as well.By associating the penalty with the crimes for which it is inflicted, society is made more aware of the horror of those crimes, and there is instilled in the citizens a need to avoid such conduct and appropriately punish those who do not.

In addition, capital punishment serves the society's legitimate interest in retribution. Justice requires that criminals get what they deserve. Justice demands that such inhuman action not be tolerated. The death penalty recognizes society's belief that there are some crimes that are so vicious, heinous and brutal that no penalty lesser than death will suffice.

The American people agree with me. A recent Gallup Poll shows that public support for the death penalty is at the highest point recorded in more than half a century, with 79 percent favoring the death penalty for murder. The public opinion on the issue of capital punishment must not be ignored.

Briefly, I want to discuss a few specific cases where the death penalty is clearly warranted. I believe a discussion of these cases will help my colleagues to understand why we need a federal death penalty.

In 1974, Pierre Dale Selby and William Andrews robbed the Hi Fi Shop in Ogden, Utah, and in the course of their armed robbery forced five bound victims - three of whom were teenagers - to drink caustic liquid drain cleaner.

Selby also tried to force Orren Walker, the father of one of the teenagers, to pour the drain cleaner down his own son's throat. When Walker refused, Selby attempted to strangle him to death with an electrical cord and then repeatedly kicked a ballpoint pen deep into his ear. Selby then proceeded to shoot each one of his victims in the head. Two survived.

Another truly heinous and depraved case occurred in January of 1988 in a Landover, Md., apartment. Kirk Bruce and two alleged accomplices, in an orchestrated plan, shot and killed four men and a woman. Bruce's victims were shot execution style with close-range shots to the head. Some were shot as many as eight times. Others were chased into rooms of the apartment and gunned down.

One victim, who survived to testify at Bruce's trial, was hiding beneath a bed but was discovered and also shot in the head. She lay there critically wounded when one of the murderers came back into the room, told her he knew she was still alive, and shot her again.

These cases provide examples of individuals who should face imposition of the death penalty. In all of these cases, the defendants received the death penalty.

However, under current federal law, were these cases to occur on federal land, the death penalty could not even be considered.

The law-abiding citizens of this nation demand action on federal death penalty legislation, not life imprisonment. They deserve to have a death penalty which will deter violent action against them and will provide swift, appropriate punishment for individuals who choose to commit heinous crimes.